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You know that scene in The Sound of Music where Julie Andrews starts belting, “These are a few of my favorite things”?
Foursquare is now the app version of that song, with the added benefit of geolocation. If you were hiding under a rock, the app relaunched Wednesday with check-ins officially disbanded and “personalized discovery” the sole focus.
The new home screen prompts you to tap a few “tastes you like” from a never-ending list. Crisp apple strudels, doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles would not look out of place.
It’s surprisingly addictive. You’ll see little gems in the search feed. Stuff that you loved once upon a time, but haven’t come across in ages. Fireplaces. Potato pancakes. People watching, street art, chai lattes and empanadas.
You’ll want to surf the list to make sure you’ve rediscovered every little food and environment predilection you forgot you had. Because then, the app will go do the work of finding them for you. As you move about your day, traipsing about town, it will send you little notifications when something you love might be in your vicinity, and you didn’t even know it.
That is the promise of the new Foursquare, and that’s why anyone who saw the sneak peek of the app was rubbing their hands in anticipation for its release. As one blogger wrote, “It’s like Yelp but doesn’t suck.” For a more detailed breakdown of the new look and feel, check out our earlier review.
But just because the app is functional and fun for the user doesn’t mean it will be Foursquare’s saving grace.
The company appears to be placing most of its bets on the fact that the new app will be so beloved it will spread magically by word of mouth. Old users who abandoned it will return upon hearing of its prowess and possibility. It’s Silicon Valley’s version of the Field of Dreams. Build it and they will come.
But as recent reports have shown, “build a great product and they will come” is no longer a fool-proof strategy in the age of a million app options. Convincing mainstream consumers — who aren’t tapped into tech news by an IV drip — to give Foursquare another shot is a monumental challenge. Crowley called it “reeducation.”
Crowley and Co, for all the Q&A’s they’ve done to market the app relaunch, haven’t given a particularly detailed answer to how they plan to roll out such reeducation. Crowley told Re/Code “Our thinking has always been, ‘If we can make these simple, elegant apps, they’ll find the users they were meant for.’” When pushed on the issue, he then mentioned something vague about external marketing and an email list.
It seems like the company is crossing its fingers its product is so good the users won’t need to be told about it. To Foursquare’s credit, it has nailed the first half. Let’s see whether anyone outside the Technorati cares.